Our Safe Families staff is often asked about the different ways in which a volunteer can serve in this ministry. Not everyone can host a child in their home or give a lot of time and resources, but there are still several ways to make a huge impact in a child’s life through Safe Families for Children.
Recently, Safe Families for Children Family Coach Zac Murphy shared about his experience serving a local Safe Families chapter in the District of Columbia and we wanted to share his post (below) with you.
What is a Family Coach?
When a Host Homes cares for a child, they need support and help to coordinate with the child’s parents. That’s where I come in. I visit the Host Home and children on a regular basis, ensure everyone is safe, and make sure the hosts have things like babysitters, clothing, bedding, etc. If the host family is in need of anything, I help connect them to community resources and touch base with the ministry lead at their church. We talk about how they’re feeling and I update them on the children’s parent’s progress. I also work with biological parents to ensure they are moving forward and have access to needed resources.
Family Coaches keep track of all the moving pieces for a particular placement. Whether it’s someone to talk to or a tangible resource – communication is key and I make sure that’s happening. I report directly to Safe Families staff and can come to them with any questions or concerns.
Why did you want to be a Family Coach?
Do you need a background in Social Work or Case Management to be a Family Coach?
I’m a paramedic, so I’m used to working one-on-one with people in what can sometimes be stressful situations. That being said, I have no background social work or case management. The most important thing is that I like working with people, I’m organized, encouraging, and can rally people together. Many people with backgrounds in social service gravitate towards this role, but it’s certainly not a requirement. Family Coaches attend a training to prepare them for the role and they are supported by staff.
How much time does each case take?
I usually spend 1-3 hours a week working on stuff for Safe Families. I check in with my Host Home weekly, whether that be in-person or on the phone, and talk with the biological parent at least bi-weekly. Depending on the week, I may also spend time coordinating tasks such as arranging babysitters or transportation, finding resources, or attending a meeting with mom. I only work on one placement at a time, though.
What are tools and support are provided to Family Coaches?
I talk with Safe Families staff a lot and we always touch base on a weekly basis. If I ever have a question or concern all I have to do is call or email and I get a response shortly after. I also have access to a huge database where I can look up resources all across the city. Before I started Coaching, I went through a specific training that helped prepare me for the role and gave me lots of resources to look back on.
Who do Family Coaches have the most interaction with?
As a Family Coach, I get to interact with just about everyone. I talk with my Host Home weekly to make sure they have everything they need and I also get to interact with the children during my in-person visits. I talk with the placing parents weekly during my check-ins and sometimes I interact with Resource Friends if a family needs something.
What’s the difference between a Family Coach and a Family Friend?
Family Friends focus on mentoring relationships to parents, they provide support encouragement, guidance, and prayer. They also can help support host parents by offering babysitting, transportation or tutoring. A Family Coach provides coaching to a parent going through a crisis, offer’s guidance, direction and keeps them on track towards reunification and meeting their goals. The coaches also visit with the children at their host homes, get to know the kids and offer updates, prayer, and encouragement to the host families. We essentially are the connectors and help keep everyone on the same team and moving forward.
How has being a Family Coach impacted you and your relationship with God?
My time as a Family Coach has been very rewarding. I love how I get to see the families we serve progress forward over time and embrace community. It’s also great to witness the Host Homes living out biblical hospitality and loving on people in their neighborhoods. God has been teaching me to put my assumptions aside and instead see people through His eyes, which has deepened my relationship with Him.
Now that you’ve read a little about his experience, can you see yourself possibly serving in this role? If so, or if you have more questions, we invite you to attend one of our upcoming Family Coach trainings in Estero or Fort Myers or reach out to us for more information.